For the Love of Peace….

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This post is part of Jen Hatmaker’s “For the Love” Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with many other inspiring bloggers.  To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE.

For the Love of Peace

If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone.

Romans 12:18 (HCSB)

The pressures of life are surmounting.   The pressures on women are driving us to anxiety and depression.  Once upon a time, the only expectations upon us were to be image bearers, good wives, good mothers, good stewards, and good students of the word.  Over the course of history, to modern day, those expectations grew.

A perfect home.

Perfect children.

The perfect wife.

Then we added to those pressures as women entered the work force.   Now not only did we have to be perfect in every way at home, but also at work.  As more women entered the work force, the expectations upon them grew to become a super woman.

Then, there was a shift.  Women began staying home with their children again.  However, this added to the pressures of the perfect home life because she no longer had to balance outside work and housework.  We thrust upon her the notion that children’s birthday parties had to be grand, we needed to scrapbook every day of our children’s lives, and that we had to not only be the super mom… but also the super wife.  Proverbs 31 Woman became a piece of scripture that women were clinging to in order to become the super Christian woman, as well.

The pressure was mounting.

And then, it happened… social media exploded and took women along for the ride.

We had Pinterest to help us make the perfect meals, hand craft decorations for our homes, and upping the children’s birthday party to epic levels.

Facebook tossed in our faces, daily, the women who were winning at life.  Working out every day to maintain her perfect body.  Her perfect weekend crafting with her kids.  Date night, once a week, with her perfect husband.  The flowers he sends her, the gifts he gives her, the attention he showers her with.

Instagram became a revealing window to how much fun others were having, without us.  We saw their “girls weekend getaway” that we were not invited to.   We commented on the fifty hand made invitations for her Women’s Ministry luncheon.  We loved her outfit of the day photo, while we sat in the jeans we bought six years ago that are holding on by threads.

The pressure kept growing… and growing….

Before we could even realize it was happening, the green eyed monster of envy was rearing it’s ugly head.  To see it, we just had to look in the mirror.

We were jealous of her doting husband.

We felt left out of the fun.

We didn’t think we could compete with her talent.

We were no longer content with our homes, or their decor.

We lamented over our lack of funds to go on vacations or buy new clothes.

We began to hate our own bodies.

We became jealous over the opportunities their children have.

And that is when it happened, the pressure became too much.. and we blew up.

On the inside.

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  When these things happen, when the pressure grows to the point where we are going to blow…  someone is inevitably going to get caught in the wake of the explosion.

We will hate our selves, for the areas we failed.

We will hate our families, for what they are not.

We will hate others, for what they have … and we don’t.

Jealousy will poison our souls to the point that it will destroy us from the inside out, if we don’t spiritually check ourselves.

When these pressures surmount like this, we have only two ways to respond after we blow our tops.

  1.  We pull up our big girl panties, set our minds right, and find peace with the blessings that God has given us.

—-  OR —-

2. We begin to elevate ourselves, by tearing down others.

There are so many scriptures that point us toward peaceful living.  Blessed are the peacemakers (Matt 5:9),  Seek and Pursue Peace (Psalm 34:14), There is Future for those in Peace (Psalm 34:34), Live at Peace with Others (Romans 12:18)… these are just a few.  God wants us to be at PEACE in our lives, not fear… not anxiousness… not jealousy or discontent.   God wants us to LOVE in our lives, not hate… not condemn… not hurt or divide.  In fact, God’s word says that we will be KNOWN BY OUR LOVE (John 13:35).  When we LOVE, we not only have peace in our own lives, but we GIVE PEACE TO OTHERS.

God wants us to live in peace, and yet more often than not…  we go the other route.

Whether it is rooted in jealousy or a lack of confidence in ourselves (and our decisions or abilities), we begin to lash out.    It starts with the thoughts in our heads, begins to fall out of our mouths in our words, and then eventually felt in our actions and deeds.

We create competition, where there is none.  We become critical of their decisions and opportunities, instead of embracing our own unique blessings.  We try and bring others to our side, by gossiping about the person.  We try and force our opinions on others, not because we desire to see change in them for the better, but really to affirm that we are right.  Our thoughts become so self centered, that we can no longer see that person(s) in a positive light.   If we are not careful, it can begin to consume us.

If we are not at peace, we are at war… within our own heart and mind.  War is messy, and it has many casualties.  It will cost you happiness, contentment, and relationships.

 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7 (HCSB)

Do not be conformed to this world, choose to live in peace.  Be known for your love.

“Let’s lay down our junk, our wonky junk that messes up relationships and community and togetherness. We won’t let our own crazy stop us from affirming each other and banging the drum for our sisters.” – Jen Hatmaker, For the Love

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Learn more about Jen Hatmaker’s new book “For the Love” at:  http://forthelovebook.com/

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AND THEY PARTED WAYS

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In Acts 15 we get a lovely glimpse into a group of believers, trying to figure out what to do with the message they have been entrusted to deliver to the world.  Leading up to this moment, we had people traveling in different directions, different routes sharing the gospel.  They were instructing new believers on what they need to do, in order to be saved.  There were discrepancies that would come up as the gentiles would ask them questions, each person answering from his own perspective and opinion.  They brought their issues to the Pharisees who would weigh in on the matters.  Finally a council of elders & apostles met to discuss this situation.

After some time and discussion and prayer, Peter would address the group and give a response of grace.  Peter ultimately points out that it would be foolish to put the same rules upon the gentiles that the Jews were unable to uphold.  Barnabas and Paul shared about the miracles they experienced in their times with the gentiles.  James affirmed that God had declared that the gentiles would be His, as well.  Then under James leading, and in accordance to the Holy Spirit, the drafted a letter that would clear up the matter.  It would be sent out to all the cities.  The matter was settled.

Now, some time later, Paul tells Barnabas that he thinks it would be a good idea to go back through the cities and follow up on the letter.  And then it happened, they had a disagreement.  They both agreed that they should go, but they disagreed on whom should go with them.  It was such a heated disagreement, that they actually parted ways.

Both men had the same goal in mind, however they were in disagreement about the manner in which to go about it.

Sound familiar?

If you have served in ministry, you may have experienced this.

If you work in a company, you may have experienced this.

Even in relationships, you may have experienced this.

The interesting thing here is that the scriptures don’t point out that either man was wrong.  Both of these men were fundamental leaders in the early church.  However, they were in such disagreement that they could no longer be in each others presence. Yet, they would continue from that departure, each doing the work that the Holy Spirit would lead them to do.  Both important parts of the body, same goals, but a different way to accomplish that goal.

Their separating ways was a good thing, allowing the work of the Kingdom to be broadened.

There will be times in our life, in relationships or in service, where we are in disagreement.  Sometimes, that disagreement is something that needs to be reconciled and repaired.  However, there are occasions where that disagreement is a divine intervention, that calls both parties to separate ways.  Simply because their tasks are no longer to be completed together.  God may be ready to move us into new directions.  We can’t move toward new directions if we are digging our heels into our current location.

Acts 15: 39b -40

Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus,  but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord.

As they chose their traveling companions and left to strengthen the churches, they were praised and given well wishes by the believers.

The important thing here is not that that they departed ways, but how they departed ways.   We are not given any indication that they left with malice toward each other, or that their relationship was broken.  In fact, they were each praised by those who were seeing them off.  Throughout the scriptures we are told that we are to reconcile to each other and to God.  Reconciliation doesn’t necessarily mean going the same way.  It means we can go different directions with love, respect, blessing and hope for each other.

Lord, thank you for your word that continually teaches us through example on how we should treat each other in our relationships and our departures.  Each and every example in your word points us to Christ and our need for a savior. Thank you for your word that never fails.  Amen.

Suggested Reading:  Acts 15